Silk-Screening: Understand the Process in Metal Fabrication
Understand the Silk-Screening Process in Metal Fabrication
Most people have probably heard of silk-screening. However, the term remains vague at best. The most common understanding pertains to clothing, especially shirts. Indeed, silk-screening is the process by which designs, logos, and emblems are printed on apparel.
What you might not realize though, is that silk-screening is a common and vital finish process in metal fabrication as well. If you’re thinking about undertaking a metal fabrication on your own or having it done professionally, having a clear understanding of the silk-screening finish process is essential.
Let’s take a closer look at what the silk-screening process looks like, important factors to consider, and the various advantages it provides.
What is Silk-Screening in Metal Fabrication?
In the simplest terms, silk-screen in a metal finishing process that involves applying paint and elements of design to a piece of metal.
More specifically, silk-screening (also known as serigraphy) employs the use of fine polyester mesh and a squeegee or blade to apply paint to a specifically designed section of metal.
Simultaneously, stencils are used to guard sections of the surface area where ink is not desired. Stencils are placed very carefully to ensure that exact design features are achieved.
Understanding Technical Aspects of Metal Substrates and How they Apply to Silk-Screening
In order to successfully apply a silk-screen finish to a metal substrate, it’s paramount to understand each substrate’s technical aspects.
When metals arrive at our shop for silk-screening they aren’t usually in their original raw form. Instead, they’ve already been treated with coatings that will affect how the metal reacts to certain inks. Additionally, these coatings can affect how resistant the silk-screen finish will be to scratching and fading.
Coatings will fall into one of two categories: thermoplastic or thermoset.
Thermoplastic coatings are dried by air. For that reason, they are softer and more accepting of ink deposits.
With that being said, they aren’t bonded to the metal which makes them more prone to scratching.
As opposed to thermoplastic coatings, thermoset finishes are cured to metal through an extensive baking process. For this reason, they’re much more durable.
Choosing the Right Ink for Your Project
Different metal substrates call for different inks.
Air-Dried Solvent Ink
These inks don’t require air curing. For that reason, they’re perfect for metal substrates that are flexible and stand up well in outdoor elements.
Heat-Cured Solvent Inks
Heat-cured solvent inks need to be baked for a long time to develop a secure bond. These inks include epoxies, polyesters, enamels, and acrylics.
Because these inks are heat-cured, they’re much more durable. This makes them the perfect choice for metal fabrication projects that are going to be exposed to outdoor elements.
Even though UV inks aren’t the most widely used inks in the silk-screening process, they’re gaining in popularity. That’s because the chemical bonding they undergo makes them resistant to scuffing and scratching.
Advantages of Silk-Screening in Metal Fabrication at MetaFab
Now that you have a clearer understanding of what the silk-screening process looks like in metal fabrication, let’s explore its most distinct advantages and what sets our silk-screening process apart.
Silk-Screening Can Be Applied to a Variety of Different Metals
While other finish processes can only be applied to certain kinds of metal, silk-screening works great as a finish for nearly any kind of metal.
Whether your fabrication piece is made of stainless steel, aluminum, brass, or anything in between, the Finish Professionals at MetaFab can execute an exact silk-screen finish to just about anything.
Precision Color Matching
One of the most significant challenges when it comes to the silk-screening process is exactly matching the colors of the desired finish.
While it isn’t all that difficult to get close, achieving precise color schemes is something we excel in.
Through the use of inks that are U.V. cured, and our proven color matching system, we’re able to meet even the most stringent standards of our customers when it comes to color.
Powerful Adhesives Ensure Protection and Longevity
Whether you’re looking to silk-screen nameplates, panel graphic overlays, or metal stamps, silk-screen finishes that lack proper adhesion are going to wear quickly. That’s the last thing you want for a product that’s meant to stand the test of time.
At Meta Fab, we have a wide variety of industry-approved adhesives that are sure to match your specific needs. Just reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable staff to learn more.
No matter how big or small your metal fabrication project is, it’s important to be educated about all the finishing processes so that you’re able to choose the one that’s best for you.
One of the more popular finish processes is silk-screening. What makes silk-screening so great is its versatility and ability to be exactly customized.
If you have additional questions about what silk-screening entails, or how it might be the right choice for your next project, give us a call at Meta Fab today. We’re standing by and ready to assist however we can.